Tuesday, February 16, 2021

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending February 16, 2021

The online news site THE CITY reports that even as the head of New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services was proclaiming his agency’s commitment to racial justice in child welfare in a self-serving op-ed column, his agency was retaliating against one of the city’s foremost advocates for racial justice in child welfare.  And yet, somehow, poor people of color are supposed to trust the agency if they reach out for help. 

● Bad as things are in New York City, they’re more than twice as bad in Los Angeles. In this powerful edition of Julian Castro’s Our America podcast, La Mikia Castillo and Yahniie Bridges share their stories of the harm done by the foster care system. They also discuss the #Blacklivesmatter - Los Angeles #ReimagineChildSafety campaign. 

● Ever notice how, when confronted by the system’s many failings, foster care apologists always say everything will be fixed with more “training.”  That’s hard to believe in any event, but especially when you see what the training is like.  As I discuss in Youth Today, I took a child abuse mandated reporter training course – so you don’t have to! (Unless, of course, you do.) 

● Remember how @lizar_tistry whom you can find on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/lizar_tistry summed up the  “Family Surveillance: A Future without Foster Care” panel at the University of Pennsylvania Law School in a cartoon?   Now, she’s followed up with a summary of the Q and A:


Graphic by @lizar_tistry

Three important stories/columns from The Imprint: 

● Jerry Milner, former leader of the Children’s Bureau in the federal Department of Health and Human Services, reflects on the Bureau’s accomplishments over the past four years (which are so significant a lot of us still hope the Biden Administration will have the good sense to bring him back).  He also writes about what still needs to be done

The new administration must fully acknowledge and address social and racial injustice in child welfare. The glaring inequities in child welfare are not a matter of opinion – they are a matter of fact. I knew it when I carried a caseload and it is clearer now than ever before. 

It is glaring that Black children are twice as likely to enter foster care as white children, and Indigenous children are almost three times more likely. Poor children of all backgrounds are at particular risk of entering foster care due to the effects of poverty, over surveillance and lack of voice. 

There is no justice in these facts. We must take a hard look at the harsh termination provisions in federal law under the Adoption and Safe Families Act, state definitions of neglect and mandatory reporting laws. … 

There must be a commitment to disentangling poverty and neglect. Over half of the children who enter foster care do so solely because of neglect, not abuse, and most of what we call neglect is rooted in poverty. … A closely related need is to pay for civil legal representation for families in matters such as housing, loss of access to services and keeping utilities running before vital, unattended needs lead to hotline calls. In the long run, it is cheaper financially and much more humane. 

Funding must match the direction of change. If we pay for foster care and adoption – and that is what we mostly pay for – we will get more of both. … If we pay for preventing abuse and neglect, and for family preservation, that’s what we will get. 

● Minnesota, which long has torn apart families at one of the highest rates in the nation, is considering expanding a parent mentor program that has shown some promise in helping to improve the state’s dismal performance. 

● As Nora McCarthy, the founder of Rise, the magazine written by parents caught up in child welfare systems, steps back, The Imprint looks at the organization’s impressive accomplishments

● And finally, every time we may think the child welfare system has run out of ways to build in racial bias, something else turns up: Check out this story on bias in hair follicle tests.